7:50am Thursday 9th January 2014
A BUMPER crowd of more than 500 helped roar Oxford City Stars to a 6-4 derby victory over Swindon Wildcats.
The hard-fought success saw Stars leapfrog Chelmsford Warriors into second place, level on points with South Division 2 leaders Slough Jets.
Despite early pressure from a Wildcats team packed with youngsters, the 521-strong crowd saw a home victory thanks to a brace from man-of-the-match Josh Florey, and single strikes from Josh Oliver, Jake Florey, James Pentecost and Darren Elliott.
The game started in blistering fashion with a sustained period of pressure from Swindon resulting in an early goal for the visitors.
Glenn Billing netted on a powerplay after James Pentecost was penalised for charging.
Ricky Young, in the Oxford net, made a great save, but was powerless to stop the rebound from being fired home.
Stars had several good chances during the first period, but were unable to beat Swindon keeper Kevin McGurk.
The hosts drew level at the start of the second period when a powerplay allowed Elliott to score.
The Oxford player-coach lashed home after the puck dropped in front of him Swindon thought they had regained the lead a few minutes later, but their goal was disallowed after their initial shot rebounded off the face of Young.
Oxford took the lead just after the halfway mark with a great goal from Florey. Pentecost won a face-off and passed back to Jonathan Bayliss, whose pass allowed Florey to fire in a bullet of a slapshot.
Swindon called a timeout immediately after this goal and came out with renewed zeal.
After the visitors forced two fantastic saves from Young, they were stunned when Oliver released Pentecost, whose return pass ended with Oliver making it 3-1.
Oxford added a fourth at the start of the final period when Pentecost fed Florey, who fired into the top corner of the net.
At 4-1, it looked like Stars had the game in the bag.
But Swindon had other ideas and pulled a goal back less than a minute later when a defensive error allowed Oxford old-boy Shannon Taylor to score.
Wildcats continued to pile on pressure, but despite having a two-man advantage for 45 seconds when Cox (tripping) and Florey (slashing) were handed penalties, they could not find another breakthrough.
But with time running out, a dramatic finale brought four goals in the last three minutes.
Oxford restored their three-goal lead when the impressive Florey got his second of the night after great work from Bayliss and Elliott.
Just 60 seconds later, Swindon pulled it back to 5-3 with Taylor getting his second.
With a minute left, Swindon gambled and took their keeper off to allow an extra attacker to come on.
The gamble paid off as Taylor completed his hat-trick and made it 5-4.
However, Oxford nerves were settled when Pentecost scored on his home debut with 20 seconds left to complete a memorable victory.
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